No Need for A Farmhouse Nightmare

Wednesday morning, fire destroyed a Sperryville auto shop and nearby utility lines; it could have caused a Serendipity Farmhouse nightmare. But, due to practical planning and a small measure of serendipity, it didn’t.

According to the Rappahannock News story Explosions, fire destroy Sperryville auto shop:

A local auto shop in Sperryville was razed early Wednesday morning after catching fire and exploding, downing power lines and leaving more than 300 homes in the area without electricity.

The article explains that the incident occurred just before 5 AM. That was about when I had just finished my prayer time and was eating breakfast. I had heard some strange sounds outside and noticed the lights flickering. Then the Internet went dead and my telephone flashed, saying that I should check the line.

Something was going on. Soon the sound of sirens confirmed that a serious event had happened near Serendipity Farmhouse. It was only hours later that I would have the opportunity to assess the nature of this critical infrastructure event.

Critical Infrastructure Security

I suspect that very few of you have read A Guide to Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). – – Why would you?

That publication lists the 16 Current U.S. Critical Infrastructure Sectors. It also notes that there are four designated lifeline functionstransportation, water, energy, and
communications. The crucial assertion by this CISA publication is:

These connections and interdependencies between infrastructure elements and sectors mean that the loss of one or more lifeline function(s) typically has an immediate impact on the operation or mission in multiple sectors. [My emphasis added.]

Preliminary Lifeline Functions Assessment

Here is the event scene as it looked at 3 PM. The auto repair shop was totally destroyed. Most of the fire crews had departed. Apparently, Rappahannock Electric Company had already completed their on-site work. Power had been restored.

Multiple Verizon trucks had arrived, and workers were repairing telephone lines.

Xfinity technicians were performing repairs on Internet, TV cable, and digital phone lines.


Did the fire have an impact on transportation?

At 5:12 AM, The Rappahannock County Fire & Rescue Department reported: “Crews are working to extinguish a commercial structure fire in Sperryville. Please avoid the immediate town of Sperryville due to multiple exposures and dangerous conditions.”

Additionally, Son’s Road and Water Street were closed to through traffic. – This had some impact on Serendipity Farmhouse.


Did the fire have an impact on energy?

According to the Rappahannock News, over 300 homes in the area lost electric power. Owing to a bit of serendipity, electric power is fed to Serendipity Farmhouse via a different distribution circuit than feeds the central portion of Sperryville. But for those 300+ families, there was great concern and inconvenience.


Did the fire have an impact on water?

For the 300+ families without power, this was most certainly a big problem. Almost everyone in Sperryville gets their water from wells using electric pumps. No electricity means no water. No water for drinking, cooking, washing, or flushing.


Did the fire have an impact on communications?

As I noted earlier, Serendipity Farmhouse lost Xfinity/Comcast Internet access, cable, and telephone just before 5 AM. But Xfinity/Comcast users were not the only ones impacted. Verizon telephone lines are on the same utility poles as the electric and cable lines. This meant that, with the exception of mobile cell service, Sperryville was without communications.

Consider the implications of this 11:47 AM report from Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office: “Rappahannock County Public Safety Communication Center 911 lines are back up and operating. For non-emergency calls please dial 540-522-7355. Administrative lines remain down.

Lifeline Functions Resilience Plan

What do we do at Serendipity Farmhouse when the lights go out? – In the words of my most wonderful wife Blondie – “Panic!!”

But she and I know that after we allow ourselves a brief moment of panic and dread, we immediately set about implementing our Lifeline Functions Resilience Plan.

At Serendipity Farmhouse, we don’t live off-grid. And, as you can see by Wednesday’s fire, we are dependent on critical infrastructure. But because of thoughtful planning, there is no need for this type of event to become a farmhouse nightmare. Although we’re not homesteaders, preppers, or survivalists, we live a practical life. And we adhere to a commonsense motto that allows us to enjoy a good night’s sleep. That motto, of course, is Pray, Prepare, Preserve. That motto motivates us to prepare for events like this.

We know what the four lifeline functions are. We understand what loss of those functions means. So, we have developed a plan to build resilience into the way we run Serendipity Farmhouse. CISA defines resilience as:

Resilience may be defined as the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions. This means being able to withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions, deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally-occurring threats or incidents.

Over the next few months, Blondie and I will show you what we do to ensure lifeline functions resilience. You will learn why, here at the vast 1.203-acre estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse, there is no need to have a farmhouse nightmare.

Sperryville is our community, the place where we live. Wednesday’s fire was destructive and tragic. Our prayers go out to Andrew Manuel, the owner of Wrextorations. You can donate to Wrextorations here.

4 thoughts on “No Need for A Farmhouse Nightmare”

  1. I look forward to reading your future posts on ensuring lifeline functions resilience.

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